Monday, May 31, 2010

Yummy Braised Chicken Cacciatore

I bought some chicken thighs on sale and decided to try a recipe I'd saved for Chicken Cacciatore. Surprisingly, it's another dish that Greg has never eaten or even heard of! I mean, he LOVES chicken and tomatoes so how could that be possible? Anyway, this recipe was adapted from Cooks Illustrated and featured mushrooms and sage. It was REALLY easy and the chicken cooked perfectly with lots of great flavor! I served them over some Knorr Rice in Chicken Flavor and it was the perfect way to end the weekend!



Ingredients:


4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 c sliced mushroom
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 c dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 c canned or fresh diced tomatoes (I used some grape tomatoes)
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp dried sage


Prep:


1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook, not moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes; using tongs, flip chicken and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned chicken to large plate and set aside.


2. Add onion, mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; sauté over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until moisture evaporates and vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


3. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add wine, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme, sage, salt and pepper to taste.


4. Submerge chicken pieces in liquid and bring to boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes, turning chicken pieces with tongs halfway through cooking. (Instant thermometer should register 190°F in thickest part of the meat.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cheesy Savory Zucchini Pie

I've been wanting to make this Zucchini Cheese Pie from one of my baking books and finally remembered to pick up some zucchini. I LOVE this savory and cheesy recipe! I know most people think of sweet Zucchini Bread but this is definitely worth a try. It almost tastes like a Quiche but without the crust and not so many eggs. Great for any time of the day!




Ingredients:

1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 c coarsely shredded unpeeled zucchini
1/4 c plain yogurt
1 c grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 c shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Prep:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. In another bowl, stir together the zucchini, yogurt and Parmesan. Add to flour mixture and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

3. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with Mozzarella and bake an additional 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

4. Let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before slicing.

Sunny-Inspired Pork Chops

I was watching Cooking for Real and Sunny made some Apple and Onion Stuffed Pork Chops that looked amazing! It was perfect timing too since I already had some pork chops in the fridge! I tried stuffing them but the bones in my chops were more towards the middle so that didn't work. So instead, I braised them in the cooking liquid along with the bacon, apple and onion. I also substituted lemonade for the OJ and pineapple juice cuz that was all I had and it worked out really well! I've always loved applesauce with my pork chops and this was a great variation. The meat was juicy and tender and just cooked perfectly! The lemonade also added a really refreshing flavor to the dish. I served the pork chops over some mashed potatoes and it was comfort food to the max!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rachael Ray's Pizza Bread Simplified

Yes, I know Rachael Ray makes 30 Minute Meals but I'm here to prove that I can make them even quicker! Greg loves pizza so I'm always looking for new recipes. (I know he never gets tired of the good old Pepperoni but I like the challenge!) I watched Rachael Ray make Bolognese Bread Pizza the other day and thought "what a great idea!" I already had some cooked ground beef in the fridge so I just reheated it in a pan with mushrooms and marinara sauce. Then I sliced some crusty Italian bread in half and topped each with the meat mixture and thick slices of Mozzarella cheese. 5 minutes under the broiler and we had some yummy 15 minute Pizza Bread for dinner! Beat THAT, Rachael Ray!

Juicy Blackberry Muffins

It's the start of berry season and I picked up some blackberries at the store. I love baking muffins with berries cuz they're so refreshing, especially in the warmer months. These were adapted a recipe in one of my Muffin Books with a few adjustments like using buttermilk instead of regular. I love how moist these muffins were from the blackberries and the lemon zest added just the perfect amount of citrus flavor!




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 c buttermilk
1 c fresh blackberries


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.


2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and zest.


3. In another bowl, stir together the egg, butter and buttermilk. Add to dry ingredients, stir just until moistened. Fold in berries.


4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin come out clean.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pulled Pork Enchiladas...Need I Say More?

We had some leftover Pulled Pork so I decided to make good use of it. I don't think anything beats Enchiladas in the Comfort Food Department and along with some smokey pulled pork? Perfection! I remember how scared I used to be at making Enchiladas cuz there are so many steps...cook the meat, soften the tortillas, roll the tortillas, and THEN bake them...but now it all seems so simple to me. I guess that's why they say "Practice Makes Perfect." Oh and of course, I learned that NOTHING comes close to Las Palmas Enchiladas Sauce (unless you have a Mexican grandmother that can make it from scratch)!

Paradise Cheesecake Squares

I've been looking for a recipe to use up the rest of my crushed pineapples and knew I'd found the perfect one when I saw Pineapple Cheesecake Squares. I modified it a bit by adding some shredded coconut on top and they tasted like creamy bites of paradise! Perfect for kicking off the summer! (Well, almost summer anyway!)




Ingredients: (9 servings)


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter


Filling:
1 c crushed pineapple
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Shredded coconut


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 325°F.


2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar and salt; add in butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Press into an ungreased 8-in square baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


3. For filling, drain pineapple, reserving the juice; set pineapple and juice aside. In the same mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour. Add egg; beat on low just until combined. Add pineapple juice. Gradually add milk and vanilla. Sprinkle pineapple over crust. Slowly pour filling over pineapple. Sprinkle with coconut.


4. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator.

Blue Biscotti for Memorial Day

Ok not completely blue but these Biscotti have blue specks from York Pieces. Have you seen those? They're a new Hershey's product and I love them! They're basically York Mint Patties but in M&M-like candy form. They also come in Almond Joy and Dark Chocolate, which I'm definitely gonna try!




Ingredients: (32 cookies)


1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c York Pieces (or any other candy you like)


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.


2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs and vanilla.


3. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; blend into creamed mixture. Dough will be stiff. Stir in candy.


4. Divide dough in half and gently roll each half into 12 X 2-inch log; place on prepared cookie sheets at least 4 inches apart.


5. Bake 25 minutes. Dough will spread. Cool logs 15 to 20 minutes. Slice each log into 16 slices; arrange on cookie sheet cut-side down. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Buitoni to the Rescue!

It's another baking night for me so dinner was quick and easy (and on the stovetop!). Good thing I always have some Buitoni Tortelloni in the fridge! These were the Cheese and Roasted Garlic flavor and I made a quick sauce out of mushrooms, ground beef and Ragu. SO simple and SO yummy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Just HAD to Try My New Fluted Cutters!

I bought a set of fluted cutters and wanted to test them out on these Parmesan Basil Biscuits. I can't say they taste any different but they sure look better! Oh and I brushed my biscuits with an egg wash (1 egg with 1 Tbsp milk) to help with the browning.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Strawberry Smoothie Scones

I attempted to make these Strawberry Oatmeal Scones using my food processor and I think I processed the batter a bit too much cuz it started looking like a smoothie! (I think I should've mixed in the strawberries and buttermilk by hand at the end.) ANYWAY, I attempted to salvage my scones by shaping the extremely sticky dough into somewhat of a circle on a baking sheet and you know what? It worked! What started out as a sticky ball became wonderfully moist scones! I've definitely learned my lesson though and won't process my batter so much next time but I'm really glad I didn't just give up and toss the dough!

Savory and Yummy Mushroom Squares

I was very pleased with my first attempt at baking with mushrooms so when I saw a recipe for them in my new cookbook, I knew I had to try them. These were adapted from Muffins: Sweet and Savory Comfort Food and I couldn't be happier with the result! I used my square baking pan and the recipe made 12 cheesy squares. PERFECT savory snacks!




Ingredients: (12 squares)


1 c sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 egg
1 c milk
1/2 shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 c olive oil


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray baking cups with cooking spray.


2. Melt butter over medium heat. Saute mushrooms until tender, 10 minutes.


3. In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, baking powder, thyme and pepper.


4. In another bowl, beat together egg, milk and oil. Add to dry ingredients. Add in cheese and mushroom mixture. Stir just until moistened.


5. Fill cups using a large ice cream scoop. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

I FINALLY Got a Cast Iron Skillet!

I've been wanting a Cast Iron Skillet for a while now but wasn't sure if I really needed one...until now. I saw an Emeril brand at Bed Bath and just couldn't resist. (ESPECIALLY since I also had a coupon!) I tested it out on some Skillet Cornbread and could not be happier with the result! The bread was flavorful and cooked perfectly.




Ingredients: (6 servings)


2 Tbsp butter
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 c cornmeal (yellow or white)
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg lightly beaten
2 c buttermilk
1/2 c shredded cheese


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 450°F.


2. Heat butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add bell peppers and sauté until tend, 10 minutes.


3. In a large bowl, mix together cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk egg and buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour in bell pepper and melted butter. Add cheese and mix until combined.


4. Pour batter into cast iron skillet, bake in oven for 20 minutes. Cornbread should be brown on top and pulling away from the sides of the skillet.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Discovered Liquid Smoke!

I've seen Liquid Smoke used many times on The Food Network but have yet to try it myself. Honestly, the idea kinda scared me but I guess I'm always up for trying something new. I bought a bottle of Wright's Liquid Smoke and thought it would be a great addition to Pulled Pork. I just rubbed the pork with a mixture of Paprika, Garlic Salt, Dry Mustard and Brown Sugar (maybe a teaspon of each) and then placed it in the slow cooker. Then I poured about a tablespoon of Liquid Smoke on top. Immediately, I could smell the smokey flavor and it reminded me of a summer cookout! I let the pork cook on low for about 10 hours and the meat was falling-apart tender. This is definitely a great new way to make pulled pork!

Lost Pizza

We sadly said good bye to one of our favorite shows tonight. We got hooked on Lost (like millions of other people) over the years and was sad to see it end. So to deal with our sadness, we made a Lost-themed dinner, a Hawaiian Pizza since the show was filmed on the island of Oahu. Yes, pizza makes everything ok!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good Old Grilled Ham and Cheese!

I like getting fancy with my Panini but sometimes the simple ham and cheese (with a tomato) is the best! This was a quick and yummy Sunday lunch, fueling us (or me) for a full day of shopping and errands! (Ok, so I did get a LITTLE fancy with a combination of Colby Jack and Swiss Cheese along with Honey Mustard Spread!)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yummy Cheddar Shortbread!

There's something about Shortbread that's just so addicting! It must be the smooth and rich texture that just melts in your mouth with every bite. But who says they have to be sweet right? I saw this recipe for Cheddar Shortbread and immediately knew I wanted to try them! They taste very similar to the Savory Crackers that I love to make but creamier. They're also a lil bigger, which makes them more like a cookie instead of a cracker. Cheesy, savory, rich and perfect Friday night treats with a nice glass of wine!

Sunny's Easy Salmon Pie

I watched Sunny Anderson make these Salmon Pies and they looked so yummy that I wanted to make them right away! I'd never used Puff Pastry before but they were really easy to work with. I omitted the spinach and just served the salmon fillets on top of the mushrooms and they were such perfect little packages! I'm totally hooked on puff pastry now and can't wait to wrap them around just about anything!

Another Fun Wine Festival

My random search for a fun weekend activity lead me to the Uncorked! Wine Festival at the Ghirardelli Square. What a great time we had! For $50 we got to sample SO much good wine and I even discovered a new healthy snack! We totally lucked out with the weather since it had been cloudy and rainy all week. It was still pretty windy and cold but at least the sun was shining and the wine definitely warmed us up!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2 of Greg's Favorites Combine in 1

On any given day, I know that I can make a Cheeseburger of a Pizza and Greg is a happy man. So as I was thinking about what to make for dinner, a genius idea came to me. Why don't I put them together and make a Cheeseburger Pizza? I mean, HOW did I not think of that before? I topped my good old Boboli crust with a mixture of pizza sauce and ketchup, followed by slices of Colby Jack Cheese. Then I topped it with cooked ground beef, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and LOTS of Mozzarella Cheese. Quick and easy and OH SO GOOD!

Using My Coffee Sample in Martha Stewart's Cookies

I love checking out the Cookie of the Day section on Martha Stewart's website and decided to make her Hazelnut Espresso Cookies featured on Monday. I didn't have espresso powder but I read somewhere that you could substitute instant coffee but just use a lil more. So for these cookies, I used 2 of the Taster's Choice Single Serving Packets in Hazelnut flavor. (I love those lil packets cuz you can take them anywhere!) The kitchen smelled amazing as these cookies were baking in the oven and the hazelnut and coffee flavors worked perfectly together! I'm sure my coworkers will appreciate the jolt of caffeine tomorrow morning! :)

Banana PB Oatmeal Muffins

It's rare that I don't add something extra to a recipe but these Banana PB Oatmeal Muffins were just perfect! They're from one of my favorite blogs, Baking Bites, and could not be easier to make! No mixer or special ingredients required, just simple, wholesome goodness. The PB and oatmeal make these muffins quite filling too so they make a great portable breakfast!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala (the cheater way!)

Just call me the Leftover Lady cuz I just transformed my Tandoori Chicken into Tikka Masala! After some research, I learned that Chicken Tikka is just chicken marinated in yogurt and spices then cooked in a Tandoori oven (sound familiar?) and Masala is a sauce made with tomatoes and cream. Apparently there isn't a standard recipe for Tikka Masala so the taste will vary depending on the chef. Well, I'm no chef but I did have a jar of Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce and TJ's hasn't failed me yet! (Plus you can't beat the convenience!) I even cheated further by making Mushroom Rice Pilaf using Rice a Roni! Yea, totally NOT authentic but tasted great!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another Batch of Savory Biscotti

My last batch of Savory Biscotti turned out so good that I decided to make some more. This time I added Parmesan cheese and some chopped walnuts. I also made them smaller so they were perfect bite-size treats!




Ingredients: (16 cookies)


1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c chopped walnuts


Prep:


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the cheese and nuts and mix well. Add the dry ingredients until the mixture just comes together.


3. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and with floured hands, pat into logs about 8x2-inches. Place logs side by side on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the logs with more grated cheese, and bake for about 30 minutes or until the logs are light brown and firm to touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes.


4. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1-inch slices (8 per log) and arrange the slices cut side down on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Turn, and bake another 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cool completely before storing.

More Fun with Leftover Meatballs

Remember my Moroccan Meatballs? Well, I was smart enough to store a few in the freezer cuz I didn't want them to go to waste. Tonight, I transformed them into Mediterranean Pasta! I love how refreshing this meal was with big chunks of tomatoes, sautéed onions and mushrooms, all topped with fresh basil and a big handful of Parmesan cheese! And the best part was? Dinner was ready in 15 minutes! Beat that Rachael Ray! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Bought a Squash

While it's not summer yet, I found some yellow squash on sale so I brought a few home. I guess I just wanted something different to play around with. I've been collecting some great baking books and this recipe was adapted from Pillsbury's Muffins and Quick Breads. It was called Cranberry Zucchini Bread but I turned it into Raisin Squash Bread. Same difference right? I actually shredded the squash myself instead of using my usual lazy food processor method! Aren't you proud of me? The bread came out super moist and the raisins gave it just the right amount of sweetness. I also added walnuts for an extra crunch and also cuz I add nuts to just about everything!




Ingredients:


1/2 c granulated sugar
1/3 c whole milk
1 Tbsp oil
1 egg
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Chai spice
1/2 c shredded squash
1/2 c raisins
1/4 chopped walnuts


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.


2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, milk oil and egg; mix well. Add the flour, baking powder and Chai spice; mix just until combined. Stir in squash, raisins and walnuts.


3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bak for 15-20 min or until light golden brown.

Cuban Pork Chops Make a 2nd Appearance!

Remember my Guy Fieri Cuban Pork Chops? Well, I've turned the leftovers into Cuban Panini! I've always heard how awesome Cuban Sandwiches were and now I totally believe all the hype! I mean, pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon Mustard...how can you go wrong with that?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My 2nd Attempt at Tandoori Chicken & I Succeeded!

I just couldn't get over my Burnt Tandoori Chicken so I decided to attempt them again. This time I stayed away from the broiler setting on the oven and baked my chicken at 425°F for 30 minutes instead. Success! I let the chicken marinate in the yummy yogurt sauce for 24 hours and this time I actually got to taste it since I didn't have to peel off the burnt skin! I posted the "revised" version of my recipe below.




Ingredients:


4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 c plain whole-milk yogurt
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


Prep:


1. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, shallot and garlic. Add the lemon juice, stir to combine, and then add the paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir everything together and pour into a large resealable bag. Add the chicken thighs and turn a few times to make sure all of the chicken is covered in the marinade. Close the bag and place on a plate (in case it leaks) in the fridge. Let the chicken marinate overnight (the longer the better).


2. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180°F.

Butterfly Shaped OJ Muffins

I bought a Butterfly Muffin Pan from Target and couldn't wait to try it out! I had some OJ left over from making my Pork Chops so I decided to find a recipe using it. I settle on these Cranberry Nut Muffins and they turned out really good! The combination of orange and cranberries were great together and the nuts added a wonderful crunch. Aren't they cute? I love getting new baking gadgets!

My New Square Muffin Pan

One of my favorite stores (besides Target!) is Marshall's cuz I always find great deals there. Whenever I'm looking for a new kitchen or home item, I always check them out first cuz I know I can get it for a much better price. The other day I was wandering around the store and found this Square Muffin Pan. What a great idea right? Why do muffins have to be round anyway? For some reason, I thought savory square muffins made more sense so I made some with cheese and black pepper. Cute and yummy!




Ingredients: (12 muffins)


2 c all-purpose flour
1 c (4 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 c buttermilk
1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray pan with cooking spray.


2. In a medium bowl, comine the flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper; mix well.


3. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, butter and eggs; blend well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into prepared pan.


3. Bake for 20 to 25 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Guy Fieri's Cuban Pork Chops

I recently started watching Guy's Big Bite and he's got some awesome recipes! I love how energetic he is and he's always got these friends visiting that act just like him! The other day, Guy made some Cuban Pork Chops with Mojo and I knew I had to try them. I didn't used to make pork chops often cuz I always seem to end up with dried out and totally flavorless results. BUT ever since I made Rachael Ray's recipe and Greg gave me such high praises, I've been experimenting with them more. These pork chops were amazing! Marinating them in the orange and lime juices definitely kept them moist. The combination of the cumin, oregano and garlic was just perfect! I haven't had much experience with Cuban food but if this is what it tastes like then I'm definitely a fan! I served the chops over some Turmeric-flavored rice and it was a just a wonderful dinner!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Panini with a BAM!

We had some Emeril's Chicken Thighs left over so I thought I'd make some Panini for a quick dinner. OMG they were SO good! I mean, that chicken was already amazing on its own, but add some provolone cheese and tomatoes and you've got the BEST panini ever! What a perfect quick and easy dinner to start off the weekend!

Testing Out My New Brownie Pan!

I bought the Chocolate Bar Brownie Pan from William Sonoma last week cuz it was just too cute to pass up! I couldn't wait to to test it out I made brownies for this Friday's treat. While I love baking from scratch, when it comes to brownies, I have no problem using a store-bought mix. I don't just use any old mix though! These are the Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies and I chose to make them fudge style. Aren't they SO cute! Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moroccan Meatball Hoagie

We had some Moroccan Meatballs left over so I decided to make some Hoagies for a quick dinner. I used a combination of Pepperjack and Muenster cheese and they worked so well together! The Pepperjack gave it just the right amount of kick while the Muenster was just so smooth and creamy. I hollowed out the bread roll a bit to make room for the meatballs and then put it under the broiler for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Quick and easy and SUPER yummy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Emeril's Essense is THE BOMB!

My love for The Food Network began almost 10 years ago and the show that got me hooked was Emeril Live. I'd never been interested in cooking before and thought of it as just some chore you end up with when a woman gets married. Well, Emeril put it in a whole new perspective for me! He made cooking seem fun and exciting! All of a sudden, it wasn't just boiling pasta and slaving over a hot stove, it was "BAM!" and "Kicking it up a notch!" I saw food as more than just a meal, it was an "experience" of flavors. For many years though, I was still intimidated with cooking but grew to love lots of The Food Network shows like 30 Minute Meals and Everyday Italian. I don't know exactly when it all happened but it was some time after moving in with Greg that I started experimenting with cooking myself and absolutely fell in love with it! Now I went back to my roots and made a dish from Emeril, his Braised Chicken Thighs with Button Mushrooms. I can't even began to explain how YUMMY Emeril's Essence is! It gave the chicken thighs just the right amount of kick without being overpowering and added tons of great flavor. I served them over some Near East Roasted Chicken and Garlic Pilaf and it was just PERFECT!

Bite-Size Banana Bread

Ok maybe more than 1 bite but these are Martha Stewart's Banana Nut Bread baked in my Petite Loaf Pan. Aren't they cute? Since mini loaves bake a lot quicker than normal breads, I adjusted the temperature down to 325ºF and only baked them for 35 minutes. There's something about banana bread that just seems so comforting and that's why I always have a couple of bananas on hand when the craving hits!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Going Moroccan with My Meatballs!

I feel like I don't experiment enough with different cuisine and since I have a pantry full of spices, I really should! You can't really go wrong with meatballs so I thought it'd be a good place to start. Moroccan cuisine has always interested me cuz it usually involves cumin, turmeric and paparika, which are some of my favorite spices. We also LOVE couscous, which is a staple as well. This is my version of Moroccan Meatballs over Pearl Couscous with LOTS of flavor and REALLY yummy!




Ingredients: (12 meatballs)


1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp dried onion
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c dry breadcrumbs
1 lb ground beef
1 c sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1/4 c whole milk
2 Tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp minced mint
1 c Pearl Couscous (also known as Israeli Couscous)


Prep:


1. In a large bowl, mix together the cumin, turmeric, allspice, garlic salt, dried onion, egg and breadcrumbs. Add beef and mix just until combined. Form mixture into 12 meatballs.


2. Heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and milk. When the sauce bubbles, add the meatballs, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.


3. While meatballs are cooking, boil a pot of water. Season with salt and stir in couscous. Let simmer for 10 minutes and drain.


4. Serve meatballs over couscous. Spoon sauce on top and sprinkle parsley and mint.

Mini Frittatas Inspired by Giada

I've been wanting to make Giada's Mini Frittatas ever since I watched her make it a while back. I just got my Heart Mini Muffin Pan and thought it would be the perfect recipe to test it out. Aren't they just SO cute? Perfect lil bite-size treats!

Macadamia Mango Muffins

It's finally feeling like spring so I thought I'd bake some Mango Muffins cuz they remind me of warm weather. There's something about these juicy fruit that makes them perfect on a sunny day! I added my usual tropical ingredients along with the mangos and these muffins taste just like sunshine!




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


1 egg
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c mango chunks
1/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 c Macadamia nuts

Prep:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 6 muffin cups with paper baking cups.


2. In medium bowl, beat egg slightly with buttermilk and oil. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt just until moistened. Stir in mango, coconut and nuts. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.


3. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Just Call Me The Scone Master!

I still remember the very first time I made scones. It was right after I bought my pink food processor and couldn't wait to try it out. I remember being nervous, having sticky dough all over my hands and wondering if all this trouble was worth it. Fast forward a year and here I am making up my own recipe and not even needing a food processor! Yea, I'm pretty proud of myself! I've learned that although kitchen gadgets come in handy, a lotta times your hands are your best tools. These are another batch of savory scones and SO SO good!




Ingredients: (8 scones)


1 c grape tomatoes (whole if small, cut in half if big)
2 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 c sour cream
1/3 c olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper


2. Combine flour, baking powder, garlic salt and Italian seasoning in a medium bowl. Stir in yogurt and oil just until evenly moistened.


3. Mix in tomatoes and green onion with your hands; kneading 6 times. Turn dough onto lined baking sheet and pat into a 9-inch circle. Top with cheddar cheese.


4. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting into 8 wedges.

A Refreshing Dinner Inspired by The Barefood Contessa

I was watching The Barefoot Contessa this morning and she made some great dishes that featured fresh herbs. Ina made this Pasta with Pecorino and Pepper and it just looked like such a refreshing spring meal. Our dinner was quite different though since I added what I had in the fridge, which were chicken, mushrooms and grape tomatoes. I also found my sauce not thick enough so I stirred in some shredded Mozzarella cheese at the end. Simple and yummy and as Giada would say "It's got the colors of the Italian flag!" :)

Happy Mother's Day!

I can't believe it's Mother's Day again and this year, Greg was able to join us! We took my mom to a yummy seafood brunch at McCormick and Kuleto's inside Ghirardelli Square. We had a great time and they even gave my mom a HUGE Chocolate-Covered Strawberry at the end of our meal! Then afterwards, Greg dropped us off at the theater where we watched the special Mother's Day preview of Letters to Juliet. I don't think it would be fair for me to give a review since it's totally not my type of movie. It was...entertaining...with a happy ending, of course.


Mommy and me!




Who's that cute couple there?

Pizza Pizza

Sometimes a picture is woth a thousand words...I just thought this was such a pretty picture and had to post it!

The Yummiest Cheesecake Bars EVER!

My mom LOVES cheesecake and she also loves pecans in just about anything. So when I saw this recipe for Pecan Cheesecake Bars, I knew she'd love them! They were SO good with the crunchy topping and creamy middle. It's just amazing how 8 simple ingredients can make such yummy treats!

Panini for a Lazy Saturday Afternoon

Life gets so hectic sometimes with work and errands so I often really enjoy a lazy afternoon where we literally do nothing but hang out and watch TV. This Saturday was one of those afternoons. Of course, we still gotta eat so I made a quick lunch of Panini. I stuffed the sourdough bread with roast beef, sun-dried tomatoes, Muenster cheese and caramelized onions and mushrooms. Oh and for extra flavor, I slathered some Marie's Honey Mustard Dressing on them. Easy, quick and SO yummy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Meatloaf - Jelly Roll Style!

Greg loves meatloaf (and who doesn't?) so I make it quite often. I love trying out different recipes for it like making it in the slow cooker and even stuffing it with cornbread. We had some Saltine Crackers in the pantry and I thought of using them as my breadcrumbs again but then I found this recipe for Meatloaf Roll and knew I wanted to make it! The meat mixture wasn't easy to roll and it was a bit messy but totally worth it! It's like getting a cheesy surprise when you cut into the loaf and the meat stayed really moist since it didn't a lot of cracker crumbs to soak up the juice. I also really liked the saucy topping and it's just not a meatloaf without the good old ketchup! I know Greg agrees!

Friday, May 7, 2010

I've Been Staffed!

My mom's work is having a potluck next week and naturally she offered to bring cookies. Guess who gets to make the cookies? Me, of course and I don't mind at all! I don't know anyone who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies, especially Mrs. Field's recipe. I've made them before and they were gone in no time so I knew I couldn't go wrong with them. I made these a bit smaller than usual cuz I thought bite-size cookies were more "potluck friendly". (Don't ask me why!) The recipe made a huge batch so I brought half of them to work and my mom will take the other half. What an awesome daughter huh? :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another Easy and Yummy Dinner Thanks to Buitoni!

Buitoni Pasta is seriously my best friend when I want something quick and easy. Tonight is my baking night, so I picked up a package of their Chicken and Proscuitto Tortelloni for dinner. I made a sauce out of sautéed mushrooms and jarred Marinara sauce, then topped everything with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. The meal came together literally in minutes and I only had to dirty one small pot!

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